Another year and back to the April Canton Fair (see my blog from a year ago)!
Its always a trek and an exhausting trip. Early starts, late nights, on your feet all day. Walking in an incredably crowded environment and dodging walkers coming at you in all directions.
But after 10 years of visiting this semi annual show, something dawned on me this time. However gruelling the week may be, one has to hand it to the shows organisers for putting on a tremendously well organised event.
With the volume of traffic, they do a fantastic job to get people in and out efficiently. Most hotels have free shuttle buses, and clear meeting points for pick up after the show. The entry points are tight and there is a full security check. This entry process has become smoother over the years and today is a fairly harmless process. They have increased the number of eateries and they cater to most tastes, and (sorry to bring up the subject) plenty of toilets all around.
It's a beautiful exhibition facility with massive halls, good lighting and air conditioning. Big corridors and very well laid out to find your way around easily.
But the kicker of the whole thing ... free and fast wifi all around the show. With an iPad in hand, I could never have imagined how useful this could be at an exhibition. Meetings with suppliers became instantly more productive. Talking about competitors or perhaps different product ideas? Pull up the relevant sites and have a look. Need some information for a discussion you weren't ready for? Access your files from the cloud and be prepared for any topic. It may sound like a small and simple thing, but I have not come across this facility at any other exhibition in my travels (not even in neighbouring Hong Kong).
Compare that to the usual "in-room robbery" of paying for internet in hotels (noting that the vast majority of Chinese hotels give fast free broadband in their rooms for guests) and its a clear sign of China thinking forward.
So for all the misery the show causes, the tired and aching feet, the lack of sleep, and the stress (that I certainly feel) when walking amongst huge crowds, here is an acknowledgement to the good side of the fair.
In addition, the improving international quality of the displays, the hospitality of the people, the professionalism of the companies and also some (albeit very limited) proprietary, genuine and useful product innovation.
Keep it up and keep improving. It's setting an example for the world!